January 12, 2018

King, Collins support bipartisan ban on New England offshore drilling

Collins photo Courtesy / MEDILL DC, FLICKR; King photo Courtesy / U.S. Naval War College, FLICKR
Collins photo Courtesy / MEDILL DC, FLICKR; King photo Courtesy / U.S. Naval War College, FLICKR
U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, are part of a bipartisan legislative effort to ban offshore drilling in New England waters. Maine's U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-District 1, and Bruce Poliquin, R-District 2, also support the ban.

U.S Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, have joined their New England colleagues in introducing a measure that would prohibit offshore drilling along the region's coast.

The proposed New England Coastal Protection Act follows a proposal from the U.S. Department of the Interior to open up federal Atlantic waters to offshore oil and natural gas exploration and extraction.

In a joint statement, Maine's senators expressed concern about the effect of allowing offshore drilling.

"The waters off Maine's coast provide a healthy ecosystem for our state's fisheries and support a vigorous tourism industry, both of which support thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in revenue for Maine each year," they said.

"With our environment so closely tied to the vitality of Maine's economy, we cannot risk the health of our ocean on a shortsighted proposal that could impact Maine people for generations," they added, saying they are proud to join their New England colleagues "to underscore the need to protect our waters from offshore drilling."

U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine District 1, and Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine District 2, also oppose opening up the Gulf of Maine to offshore drilling.

Last week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced that the Trump administration would expand offshore oil and gas leasing to encompass around 90% of domestic coastlines.

King and Collins responded with a letter earlier this week expressing their opposition to that proposal. They wrote that even minor spills could cause serious harm to the lobster industry, which contributes an estimated $1.7 billion to the state's economy, in addition to hurting other fisheries, aquaculture and coastal tourism.

Since Zinke's Jan. 4 announcement, the Interior Department decided to exempt Florida from the expanded offshore drilling proposal due to its "unique" status, according to USA Today.

That prompted officials from California, Delaware, New York, Oregon, New Jersey, Virginia and Washington to ask Zinke for the opportunity to make the case for their states to be exempted too, the newspaper reported.


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